Mitt Romney, who battled to win the votes of skeptical conservatives during his primary campaign, is reaping praise from some prior critics for his pluck and creativity in taking the fight to President Obama now that he is the Republican presidential nominee.
“I’m telling you, this is not the McCain campaign,’’ radio host Rush Limbaugh told his listeners Thursday.
He spoke just after energetic Romney workers stymied an Obama rally in Boston, and Romney himself made a surprise visit to Solyndra, the California solar panel manufacturer that went bankrupt despite a $535 million loan guarantee from the administration.
Limbaugh also lauded the former Massachusetts governor for not distancing himself from Donald Trump earlier in the week, after the boisterous real estate magnate and television host - while gearing up to host a fund-raiser for Romney - reiterated his belief that Obama is not a US citizen.
John McCain, “had the left demanded that he distance himself from Trump, not only would have distanced himself from Trump but he would have gone public and kicked Trump out of his campaign,’’ Limbaugh said.
It is an open question whether such campaign tactics and controversial backers will help Romney win over independent voters in swing states, but the counterrally against Obama was emblematic of his campaign’s dexterity since Rick Santorum dropped out of the primary battle in April and Romney formally clinched the nomination last week.
When word leaked Wednesday afternoon that senior Obama strategist David Axelrod would appear at the State House on Thursday morning to criticize Romney’s record as governor, Romney’s team quickly mobilized.
There would be no uncontested appearance such as that George H.W. Bush staged with Boston police officers when he was running for president in 1988 against Governor Michael S. Dukakis, and no photo-op similar to Bush peering into a then-polluted Boston Harbor.
The Romney campaign organized its own rally 90 minutes before Axelrod was to appear, then had a boisterous group of its campaign staffers and interns remain until the Obama event.
They ended up drowning out Axelrod, muting his criticism of Romney and exhibiting the kind of guerrilla tactics normally reserved for the Occupy Wall Street crowd.
As an Obama supporter tried in vain to organize a cheer of, “I say ‘O,’ and you say, ‘bama,’ ’’ the Romney crowd seamlessly improvised to shout down another cheer of “four more years’’ with “five more months.’’
As Axelrod took the microphone, he looked out at a sea of Romney posters reading, “Obama Isn’t working,’’ freshly shipped to Beacon Hill from the campaign’s headquarters in the North End.
To top it off, the Romney team brought in a bubble-making machine to lend a festive air to their mischief. Not to be denied, they commandeered an external outlet on an NBC News satellite truck to supply the electricity.
In the long arc of a campaign, the event is probably insignificant. But it reiterated the challenges the Obama team has faced as it has tried to execute its plan to define Romney negatively.
On Thursday, the Romney campaign’s penchant for secrets - and ability to keep one - also paid off when he staged a counterattack on Obama not just at the State House, but across the country in California.
He packed his traveling press corps onto a bus, got on himself, and then rode in without revelation until he pulled up to the former headquarters of Solyndra.
Romney conceded he went through the machinations to avoid any Obama supporters, and he succeeded.
In the past, Romney has reprimanded and tried to silence hecklers at his events, whether they were average voters or dispatched from the Obama campaign.
“If the president is going to have his people come in to my rallies and heckle, why, we’ll show them we conservatives have the same kind of capacity he does,’’ said Romney.
Romney worth as much as $250m, his campaign says
WASHINGTON - Mitt Romney is worth between $190 million and $250 million, a range unchanged from last year, his campaign said late Friday after filing a personal financial disclosure statement with the Federal Election Commission.
The Romneys have vast financial holdings and use a range of investment tools, which were displayed throughout a 20-page filing that was stamped by the FEC at 4:24 p.m. on Friday - typically a time when inconvenient news is released. Romney’s wealth has been a sensitive issue during his campaign, and he disclosed information related to his finances has several times over the past year.
Earlier this year, for the first time, he released tax returns that showed an income of $21.7 million in 2010. The forms filed on Friday show all of his financial holdings, but oftentimes only in the broadest of values that federal law requires.
The forms indicate that the Romneys had financial holdings in a range of between $83 million and $255 million. His campaign said a more accurate range was between $190 million and $250 million.
The Romneys keep between $250,001 and $500,000 in a Bank of America cash account, and the former Massachusetts governor continues to earn millions from a retirement deal with Bain Capital, the firm he started in 1984 and left in 1999.
Over the past year, the forms show, Romney received a total of $189,975 for four speeches, which came from Emory University ($11,475), Barclay’s Bank ($42,500), Goldentree Asset Management ($68,000), and the International Franchise Association ($68,000).
Romney also received $260,390 from Marriott, for distributions still coming from his time on the board at the international hotel company. Many of the items are unchanged from the filing that Romney submitted last year. The Romneys still own between $250,001 and $500,000 in gold, for example.
Romney’s investments are held in a blind trust, which Romney created when he became governor in January 2003.
“Governor and Mrs. Romney’s assets are managed on a blind basis,’’ Andrea Saul, a Romney spokeswoman, said in a statement. “They do not control the investment of these assets, which are under the control and overall management of a trustee.’’
Romney’s stocks were sold in a wide range of companies, including Apple, Boeing, Google, and McDonalds. He also sold stock in Walmart de Mexico, which is under investigation for bribing officials in Mexico, and in British Sky Broadcasting, the company that Rupert Murdoch had sought to buy before his company was ensnared in a British phone-hacking scandal.
Obama camp sends local lawmakers to swing states
WASHINGTON - President Obama’s campaign is dispatching several Massachusetts lawmakers to swing states next week in a further attempt to draw negative attention to the state’s former governor - and presumptive Republican presidential nominee - Mitt Romney.
The campaign is sending several representatives - Cory Atkins of Concord, Jeffrey Sanchez of Boston, and David Linsky of Natick - to host events on Monday in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Ohio. It marks a national debut of sorts for the lawmakers, who are not widely known outside their districts.
The move comes a day after top Obama adviser David Axelrod staged a press conference on the steps of the Massachusetts State House, where a group of Romney supporters and campaign staffers chanted, booed, and blew bubbles.
Obama’s campaign has not announced full details of the Monday events involving the Massachusetts lawmakers, and Romney’s campaign has not said whether they intend to try to send surrogates to disrupt them.